Dash Cam Parking Surveillance Mode Guide
Straight out of the box, our Dash Cams plug directly into the cigarette lighter/12V/24V female accessory socket of your car. When you start your car engine, the Dash Cam will automatically power on and start recording. When you turn off your car engine, the Dash Cam will automatically power down and stop recording. But what if you want to keep the Dash Cam recording after you turn off your engine, say for example while parked at the train station, or in a shopping center carpark? You need a feature called Parking Surveillance Mode.
What is Parking Surveillance Mode?
A reliable and intuitive Parking Surveillance mode is a feature of most higher end Dash Cams. It allows the Dash Cam to continue record footage while the vehicle is parked and the engine is OFF.
This feature can enable you to capture things happening to or around your car.
During parking mode recording, the Dash Cams record if they are triggered by motion or impacts.
The footage can record hit and run drivers, trolley incidents or deliberate/malicious damage while away from your vehicle. If a license plate is picked up in the footage, the offending driver can be tracked down for insurance purposes and shown to police. Hit and run drivers (that don’t leave any authentic details) can be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Tracking down a hit and run driver can also assist you avoid paying your excess when making an insurance claim. The saving on excess pretty much pays for the Dash Cam and you can also protect your no claim bonus.
How does Parking Surveillance Mode with Motion/Impact Detection work?
Once Parking Mode activates, the Dash Cam will record and save video files when triggered by either motion or impact (model dependant).
Different Dash Cam brands and models save different video file lengths but they are generally short, around 30 seconds, to conserve both memory card space and car battery power. For example, if 2 people are talking in front of your car for 2 minutes, you will probably see 4 x 30 second files saved. If a car drives past your car for 5 seconds, the Dash Cam will still save a 30 second file.
When no motion or impact is detected, the Dash Cam goes into standby mode and stops recording, but is still watching. Video is only recorded and saved once triggered by motion or impact. Parking Surveillance mode generally operates this way to conserve memory card space and car battery power. If the Dash Cam records constantly in Parking Mode, there would be a chance that important incident files could be overwritten quickly as the SD card fills up. The car battery would also drain faster reducing the length of recording time. There is no point recording dead air.
Some Dash Cams have an additional time-lapse recording feature in Parking Mode. Time lapse mode can be used to save alot of SD card storage space when parked in a very busy area or parked for days on end. It generally operates by continuously recording footage at around 1 frame per second (model dependent), therefore 7 minutes of footage can be reviewed in 30 seconds.
The best Parking Mode Dash Cams have Pre-Buffered recordings whereby the camera will record a short amount of footage before the motion or impact trigger occurs. This helps to capture more of the lead up to an incident. We like Dash Cams with pre-buffered parking mode recording as they reduce the risk of missing important lead up footage. If a Dash Cam does not have pre-buffered parking mode, the camera will only wake up and record after the trigger. This means the culprit or incident might already be out of the camera vision.
The Dash Cam brands that have the most intuitive and reliable parking mode features are from BlackVue, FineVu and Lukas. These Dash Cam brands offer pre-buffered parking mode and also offer excellent customisation of the parking mode settings. For example you can adjust the motion and impact sensitivities during parking mode. With lower end units, you get what you are given with no or very little parking mode customisation.
We like that the FineVU and Lukas Dash Cams save parking mode files in separate folders on the SD card. Motion files are saved in a “Motion” folder and impact files are saved in an “Event” folder. This makes finding the important parked videos files much easier as they are not jumbled up with normal driving files. You can also filter through the different file types in the camera apps also.
The video below provides a great general rundown of how a good Parking Mode Dash Cam with pre-buffered recording operates. The BlackVue, FineVu and Lukas parking mode operates very similar to that shown in this video.
Does Parking Surveillance Mode automatically activate and deactivate?
Not in all Dash Cams.
Ensure that the Parking Mode feature of your chosen Dash Cam is automatically activated when you park and automatically deactivated when you re-start your car. Automatic Parking Mode generally operates in conjunction with the Dash Cam’s inbuilt G-sensor or the car’s ignition switch. The Dash Cam G-sensor knows when your car has been stationary for a set time and automatically switches to Parking Mode recording. Likewise, when you re-enter your car and start driving again, the G-sensor knows you are moving again and automatically switches back to continuous recording.
The FineVU, Lukas and BlackVue X model Dash Cams are very intuitive and switch in and out of parking mode when their respective hardwire cables detect you when have switched your engine on and off. So as soon as you turn off your engine, parking mode activates. You will hear the voice notification say “switch to parking mode recording” for example. When you turn your engine back on, the Dash Cam will automatically switch back to normal continuous recording. You will hear a notification say something like “switch to normal recording” and away you go.
Some Dash Cams only have manual Parking Mode activation, which can be annoying for some users. Everytime you leave and re-enter your car you need to remember to turn Parking Mode on and off in the menu. Always safer to go for a Dash Cam with automatic activation.
Do I need any accessories to run Parking Surveillance Mode?
Yes. You need to purchase either a hardwire kit or an external Dash Cam battery pack to power your Dash Cam in Parking Mode and to protect your car battery from going flat.
Hardwire kits are Battery Discharge Prevention Devices. They have two functions:
- They provide power to the Dash Cam when the car engine is off. They draw power from the car battery through the fusebox and supply it to the Dash Cam.
- They are essential to stop your car battery from going flat and requiring a jump-start. While in parking mode, hardwire kits monitor your car battery voltage and when the pre-set low voltage cut off point has been detected, it will cut power permanently to Dash Cam and stop recording. Power to the Dash Cam resumes when you restart your car. The low voltage cut-off is set via the camera settings.
Some cars have a continuously powered cigarette lighter socket that continues to provide power to the Dash Cam when the engine is off. This is not recommended, as there is no battery voltage monitor to stop the Dash Cam from recording which could potentially drain your battery. Always use a hardwire kit with low voltage protection for Parking Mode.
Example – Dash Cam paired with the Hardwire Cable
The red, yellow and black wires are installed into the fusebox and enable power to be drawn from the car battery when the engine is off
BATTERY PACKS – CELLINK NEO
The other option for parking mode power is an external battery pack. These packs plug into your cigarette lighter socket and charge up as you drive. When you park and turn off your engine, they provide stored battery power to the Dash Cam (no car battery use).
If opting for an external battery pack, we recommend the Cellink NEO battery pack for its excellent reliability and heat resistance. Cheap battery packs are prone to swelling and leaking battery acid during hot weather. The Cellink NEO can provide a single channel Dash Cam up to 25 hours of continuous recording time when fully charged. For a dual channel Dash cam, up to 15 hours continuous recording is provided (depending on make/model/settings).
Remember though, in parking mode, the Dash Cam is not continuously recording so the Cellink NEO will provide longer powering time in parking mode. If you are looking for the longest possible recording time while parked, the Cellink NEO will provide longer power for parking mode over hardwiring to the car battery. The NEO is not using the car battery and not restricted to a low voltage cut off point so can record until it fully drains.
How long will the Dash Cam record for in Parking Surveillance Mode when hardwired to the car battery?
Very difficult question to answer.
Many factors have an influence on recording time such as:
Health of the car battery
Car Battery size
Your chosen low voltage cut off setting
Charged level of the car battery when you park
How busy the car park is, the more motion = more recording = more battery use
On a healthy battery it is fairly normal to get overnight recording in a normal street or carpark.
How do I install a Hardwire Kit to the fusebox?
We highly recommend customers use a qualified auto electrician to correctly install their hardwire kit. The hardwires need to piggy back off specific electrical circuits in the fuse box. You don’t want to be tapping into or disconnecting the wrong/essential circuits like your safety airbag circuit or ABS brakes. If the wrong circuits are chosen, Parking Mode won’t operate correctly or your car features might not operate correctly
If you have any further enquiries or would like more assistance please do not hesitate to contact us on (03) 9350 2650 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on our Live Chat tab on the site. We are more than happy to answer any questions or assist you with a Dash Cam recommendation.